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Paving and Sealcoating: Understanding the Difference

Paving and Sealcoating

Paving and Sealcoating: Understanding the Difference

Every homeowner wonders how to help their driveway last as long as possible. If you decide to choose asphalt as your driveway material, you need to learn all there is to know about paving and sealcoating.

When faced with asphalt pavement for the first time, many homeowners don’t know about sealcoating. Isn’t high-quality paving sufficient for the durability of their driveway? In reality, paving is only part of the process. Without sealcoating, all your paving efforts may go to waste.

Knowing how to go about strengthening your asphalt driveway can help you enjoy the surface for many years regardless of the climate you live in.

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What is Asphalt Paving?

Asphalt paving involves covering the surface with asphalt. Asphalt is a durable material made of aggregates, binders, and fillers. The aggregates in the asphalt are sand, crushed rock, and gravel. The binder is usually bitumen.

Asphalt pavements can vary in longevity depending on the type of materials used to create them. From binders to recycled asphalt, you need to dig deeper into the details to understand the difference.

In the majority of cases, if paved professionally, your asphalt pavement can last for many years. However, without sealcoating, it can fail quickly, forcing you to spend a significant amount of money on repaving.

If you are planning to pave your driveway on your own, it’s imperative to take the time to choose the right asphalt material and invest in proper equipment.

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What is Asphalt Sealcoating?

Asphalt sealcoating is adding a protective layer of asphalt paving in order to protect the asphalt from damage, chemicals, and weather elements.

In addition to its main properties, the sealcoat gives your asphalt a fresh and clean look. Each time you reapply the sealcoat, you can enjoy the appearance of a freshly paved driveway.

Sealcoating is quick and easy. While it requires a professional approach, it won’t take up too much of your time. The sealcoat takes 24 to 48 hours to dry.

By applying a sealcoat regularly, you can double or triple the life of your asphalt pavement. According to ABС Paving, sealcoating contractor from Florida, with proper sealocating, asphalt maintenance becomes quicker and easier.

Differences between Asphalt Paving and Sealcoating

The key difference between asphalt paving and sealcoating include:

·         Frequency – to serve its purpose, the sealcoat has to be applied every one to three years, depending on the traffic volume. If you apply a sealcoat regularly, the driveway has to be repaved once every 10 to 20 years.

·         Cost – sealcoating is much cheaper than paving. The average cost of paving an asphalt driveway is $4,000. Meanwhile, sealcoating an asphalt driveway will cost you about $500.

·         Purpose – the purpose of asphalt paving is to create a durable surface for the vehicles to drive over. Meanwhile, the purpose of sealcoating is to provide extra protection to your asphalt pavement.

While both tactics are designed to keep your asphalt in top shape, the processes are drastically different.

Similarities of Asphalt Paving and Sealcoating

While being different, asphalt paving and sealcoating come with a few similarities.

·         Appearance – when the asphalt is freshly paved, it has a rich black color. Unfortunately, it fades with time. When you apply the sealcoat, the color comes back and stays for a while.

·         Protection – both asphalt paving and asphalt sealcoating are designed to offer protection. Asphalt paving offers protection to the ground and creates a durable surface for the cars to drive over. Meanwhile, asphalt sealcoating provides protection for the pavement.

·         Maintenance – maintaining your asphalt pavement and the sealcoat involves the same practices like regular inspection and timely crack repair.

In the grand scheme of things, both asphalt paving and asphalt sealcoating serve the same purpose of providing convenience and cost savings to the landowner.

What is the difference between paving and sealcoating?

While the terms asphalt paving and sealcoating are often confused, each service has a different purpose. Asphalt paving helps repair or replace damaged or aging asphalt driveways. Sealcoating can repair minor cracks or defects, though contractors typically use it to maintain and protect asphalt surfaces.

Is driveway sealcoating worth the money?

If you want your driveway to last, sealcoating is the way to go. Unprotected asphalt leads to cracks and potholes that can severely damage your foundation. Seal coating is cost-effective in the long run and it can significantly improve the appearance of your driveway.

What is sealcoating?

Sealcoating, or pavement sealing, is the process of applying a protective coating to asphalt-based pavements to provide a layer of protection from the elements: water, oils, and U.V. damage.

What does pavement sealing do?

Sealcoating protects and prolongs the life expectancy of asphalt pavement by filling surface damage and providing a protective layer to keep out damaging UV rays, vehicle fluids, and water. The low cost of regular sealcoating can save you money in the long run.

Final Thoughts

Asphalt paving and sealcoating are two parts of the same process. If you want to have a durable and convenient driveway, you need to pave it with asphalt and apply sealcoats regularly.

Sealcoating protects your asphalt pavement and simplifies its maintenance. With regular sealcoating, you can forget about repaving your driveway for several decades. 

Paving and Sealcoating: Understanding the Difference


Sealcoating is the application of a specially-formulated liquid coating to asphalt pavement. As the liquid dries, it hardens to seal the pavement from water penetration, sun damage, and chemicals that can degrade asphalt surfaces over time. Typically made from refined tar or petroleum products, seal coating reduces friction, creating a smoother driving or parking surface.

Stop your search if you are looking up “seal coating near me,” hoping to fix your asphalt cracks. Unlike asphalt paving, seal coating is not used to repair asphalt surfaces. Think of seal coating more like pavement maintenance instead of repair service. Any defects under the surface will remain after the seal coating is complete.

While seal coating can effectively cover small cracks and blemishes, it is much more effective at protecting your driveway from damage than repairing existing defects.

What Are the Different Types of asphalt seal coating?

When working with a professional contractor, they should be able to tell you what types of asphalt seal coating they use. While all can extend the life of your pavement to some degree, some will suit your asphalt’s needs better than others.

  • Coal Tar Sealer: Water-resistant and able to protect your driveway from oil and gasoline spills, this sealer is made of refined coal and additives to extend the life of your driveway by protecting it from direct contact with UV rays. However, it is not environmentally friendly as it removes a volatile organic compound or VOC when applied.
  • Asphalt Sealer: This type of sealer is also water-resistant, but it does not offer nearly as much protection against oil, gasoline, or UV rays that will eventually degrade asphalt and cause cracking. Asphalt sealer is a more environmentally friendly option as it produces less VOC.
  • Acrylic Polymer Sealer: A synthetic type of sealer provides the same protection against organic and non-organic materials as coal tar sealer but is often less cost-effective than the other sealer types. It also produces less VOC, meaning it’s better for the environment than the popular coal tar sealer.

It is best to leave the asphalt paving and seal coating to the professionals, who can determine what is best for your needs.

How much does sealcoating cost?

The cost of seal coating varies depending on the size of your driveway. When prepped correctly, a seal coating can make your driveway look brand new again for a fraction of the cost of asphalt paving and resurfacing. Regular seal coating is also one of the best ways to extend the life of your driveway. Just be sure to avoid making these big DIY seal-coating mistakes!

How long does seal coating last?

Applying seal coating, typically two full coats should last about three years if your asphalt pavement is in decent shape. Older asphalt driveways may require annual seal coating to maintain their protection and appearance and extend their service years.

How long should I wait to drive on my seal-coated driveway?

It would be best to avoid driving on a newly seal-coated driveway for 24 to 48 hours after application. Drying time varies depending on relative humidity, temperature, and sun exposure. It is better to give it more time to dry than need a new seal coating sooner because you didn’t wait the appropriate amount of time before driving on it.

When should I seal coat my driveway?

Regular seal coating is recommended for all asphalt driveways at least six months old. Sealcoating can significantly extend your driveway’s lifespan by slowing the expected asphalt degradation that results from freeze-thaw cycles, road salt, oil, gasoline, and sun exposure.

While the terms asphalt paving and seal coating are often confused, each service has a different purpose. Asphalt paving helps repair or replace damaged or ageing asphalt driveways. Sealcoating can repair minor cracks or defects, though contractors typically use it to maintain and protect asphalt surfaces. You cannot put seal coating over major defects like potholes and expect them to fill in because they will not, and you will damage your asphalt further, shortening its lifespan.


While we are not a seal coating contractor, Lyons & Hohl Paving provides high-quality paving services for residential homeowners and commercial and industrial clients throughout Lancaster, PA, and Berks, Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery counties.

If you are unsure what’s best for your asphalt and choosing between asphalt paving and seal coating feels like it’s out of your wheelhouse, we can help determine the best route for repair. 

Last update on 2023-07-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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